Maria Menounos (shown here) will be back on Times Square this year, amid crowds, chaos and commotion.
Whatever happens, it’s bound to be easier than 2017, her first time with Fox’s New Year’s Eve.
“It was the coldest (Eve) in New York ever,” she recalled. “And it was after I had brain surgery.” One thing more: She was getting married – live, on the air – surprising everyone, including her parents.
The coldest Eve ever? Well, the coldest in a century, anyway; it was 9 degrees … second only to a 1-degree night, exactly 100 years earlier. And it was way too cold to be changing into a wedding gown.
“There I was, naked (under the stage) on the coldest night ever,” she recalled.
Since then, problems have faded. Menounos has stayed married; the temperature hit high-40s last year, and is expected to reach the 50s — albeit with rain possible – this year.
That’s important, because the networks have big plans. Fox – with Steve Harvey, Rob Gronkowski and Menounos – has LL Cool J live from Times Square and some more stunts: The Village People will try to set the record for the world’s largest dance to their “YMCA” song; there will even be a wrestling mini-match. And there will be music from Florida Georgia Line, plus the Chainsmokers, Lumineers, Backstreet Boys and Tyga and the Killers.
Others will also be on Times Square. ABC has Post Malone, BTS, Alanis Morissette (with the cast of her “Jagged Little Pill” musical) and Sam Hunt, plus lots of others taped earlier in California. NBC has Blake Shelton and Gwen Stefani in New York and Keith Urban in Nashville, plus music by Ne-Yo, Brett Eldredge, Julianne Hough and more.
It’s enough to drive a normal person batty, but Menounous happens to be abnormal. “I do really well under pressure,” she granted. So do Harvey and Gronkowski … who has, after all, caught passes while large men crashed into him.
Menounos, 41, grew up in Massachusetts, where her parents (both Greek immigrants) were janitors at a Boston nightclub. She finished in the top-15 in the Miss Teen USA pageant and headed to Emerson College in Boston. That’s where she became a reporter for Channel One, a youthful cable channel.
She’s done a few acting roles, but mostly it’s been a career of unscripted TV. That has included hosting and reporting for the show-business shows – “Entertainment Tonight” (2002-5), “Access Hollywood” (2005-11), “Extra” (2011-14) and “E News” (2014-17).
Menounos finally ended that string when it was time for her surgery. In June of 2017, a benign intracranial tumor was removed; she soon signed up to be an Eve co-host.
At a meeting, she said, producers talked of finding a couple for a live wedding. “They said, ‘unless you and Kevin (Undergaro) want to get married.’”
Well, maybe. They’d been together since college. She checked with him and kept it secret from everyone else …. including her parents. “I just told them, ‘It’s New Year’s Eve; wear something nice.’”
Later, there was a second wedding in the Greek village her parents are from. The villagers “built that church themselves …. Everyone walked with us to the church.”
She’s stayed busy. She hosts the features that appear (alongside lots of ads) before movies. (“We’re on 70 per cent of all screens.”) And she does podcasts about WWE wrestling.
Yes, wrestling. “I grew up watching wrestling with my dad,” Menounos said. When Undergaro planned to write for WWE, she began studying it. Later, when the WWE wanted her to be an announcer, she insisted on being a wrestler. “They thought I was crazy, but we worked up a whole storyline.”
The result? So far, Menounos has a 4-0 record; to remain perfect, she should avoid being lured into that New Year’s Eve mini-match.